2011 NFL Draft Round 1: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Wow, what a whirlwind first round of the NFL draft. The draft is always exciting and it never fails to deliver the shocking and unexpected moments. There were plenty of those last night.
The first five picks of the draft went smoothly, as all five of those picks were pretty much expected but the excitement really started with the sixth pick. From there on out we saw some top 10 players fall (Prince Amukamara and Da’Quan Bowers), while other players went well before most people expected (Christian Ponder).
I want to share some of my thoughts on what went down last night, as I thought there were some very strong picks to go along with some head-scratchers. I can’t wait for what is sure to be another exciting night of action tonight for rounds two and three.
The Good: Picks 1-5
I thought that the first five players selected were the top five players available for this year’s draft. The Panthers, Broncos, Bills, Bengals and Cardinals all got great players who significantly improve the quality of their teams.
Cam Newton was an excellent pick by Carolina in my opinion, as he gives them a true franchise quarterback who has the potential to become a star in this league. Von Miller gives the Broncos a difference maker on the defense. He is a versatile player who is going to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, along with Elvis Dumervil.
Marcell Dareus isn’t necessarily an exciting pick for the Bills, but he provides a solid presence up front for their 3-4 defense. A.J. Green is an excellent pick for the Bengals, as he gives them a number one receiver to replace Chad Ochocinco. The Cardinals took Patrick Peterson, which doesn’t fill the teams’ biggest need but he was the most talented player available in this draft.
All in all, it was an excellent first round for the NFL’s five worst teams, as they took players who will help improve the future of their franchises.
The Good: Detroit Selects DT Nick Fairley
Some people may disagree with me on this, but I thought that this was an excellent pick by the Detroit Lions. They got another great player to beef up what is now the most talented defensive line in the league.
Defensive tackle was far from the Lions biggest need, as they already had Corey Williams and last year’s first round pick Ndamukong Suh. Yet they took the best player available at that spot that can come in and make a considerable impact in his rookie season.
Fairley and Suh is one of the most talented defensive tackle duos in the league and they’ll make the Lions’ defense a force to be reckoned with. Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Christian Ponder (more on Ponder later) are going to have their hands full for years to come in the NFC North.
Martin Mayhew had yet another successful first round, as he continues to improve the Lions for the future. Lions fans have to be excited about the direction of the team, and last night only reinforced that thought in my eyes.
The Good: Indianapolis Selects OT Anthony Castonzo
Castonzo was an excellent pick in my eyes, as the Colts must continue to surround Peyton Manning with all of the protection he can get as he ages. Manning is one person who must be extremely pleased with this selection.
Castonzo was the most NFL ready offensive tackle in my eyes and I think he’ll make a huge impact next season along the Colts offensive line. He will come in and start from day one at the left tackle position and I think he will make a couple of pro bowls throughout his career.
This was another excellent pick by the Colts organization as they continue to churn out great first round picks. The pick of Castonzo will also help Colts fans forget that Indianapolis passed on local left tackle Rodger Saffold with last year’s first round pick.
The Good: New Orleans Saints
I really loved what the Saints did last night. They added two of the better players in the draft in Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram, and they got great value for both of these players.
Jordan will provide a huge boost to the Saints’ pass rush, but he also is great against the run. He was a top 10 player in my opinion, so New Orleans got very good value with him.
The Saints traded next year’s first round pick to get back into round one to select Mark Ingram. I like this selection because it gives the Saints a very good inside running back who will give that offense a different dimension.
This may mean the end of Reggie Bush in New Orleans, but if the Saints can figure out a way to keep him, it’ll give the Saints an excellent pairing at running back.
The Good: Chicago Selects OT Gabe Carimi
As a Packer fan, this killed me to see the Bears select Carimi in round one. Not only was it a very strong pick for the Bears that fills a giant need, but I badly wanted Carimi to end up in Green Bay.
Jay Cutler has been beaten down in his past two seasons in Chicago, so the Bears badly needed to find some more protection for him. Carimi will come in next season and battle for one of the starting offensive tackle spots next season.
This doesn’t just fill a big need for the Bears, but it was also a great value pick for them at that spot. Bears fans have to be happy with Jerry Angelo (for once) as he really hit a home run with this selection in my opinion.
The Bad: Atlanta Trades Up for WR Julio Jones
Now, I’m not necessarily saying that the selection of Julio Jones was a bad pick. I think it fills a very big need for the Falcons, and it greatly improves their offense moving forward. Jones will help take some of the pressure off of Roddy White, and Matt Ryan has to be licking his chops thinking about next season.
The thing that I am knocking here is how much Atlanta gave up to move up to the No. 6 selection. They gave up a first, second and fourth rounder in this draft, as well as next year’s first and fourth round picks. This is way too much to give up for any one player, and it will hinder the Falcons ability to rebuild their defense for the future.
It’s also puzzling that they gave up so much for a player who is basically going to be a No. 2 receiver in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. Jones has No. 1 receiver talent, but Roddy White will be the first option for as long as he remains in Atlanta. Overall, I wasn’t impressed by Atlanta yesterday.
The Bad: San Francisco Selects OLB Aldon Smith
I was not a fan of this selection by the 49ers, and I want to explain why. Smith has a lot of potential, but the 49ers passed up two pass rushers who were better in my opinion in Robert Quinn and Da’Quan Bowers. I get that both those guys have had health concerns, but when they’re healthy, they are better players.
I also don’t think that Smith is a real great fit for the 3-4 defense. He is a good pass rusher, which was a big need for San Francisco heading into the draft. Yet, Smith is a very raw player who doesn’t have the instincts or experience to drop into coverage.
The final reason that I don’t like this pick is because the 49ers passed up two more talented players (Blaine Gabbert and Prince Amukamara) who also would’ve filled very big needs. The value of this pick just isn’t there for me, but I know that I have Smith ranked lower than most people do.
The Bad: The Titans Select QB Jake Locker
The first is that they passed on the more talented quarterback, who also has more potential moving forward. Blaine Gabbert was arguably the most talented quarterback in this draft and I personally thought he’d be gone by the time the Titans picked. I think Gabbert will have a better career than Locker in the NFL.
The second reason I am concerned about them taking Locker so early is due to his accuracy issues. One of the most important factors of being a good quarterback in the NFL is that you have to be accurate throwing the football. Locker has been plagued by accuracy issues throughout his college career, which is something that is hard to fix for a quarterback.
I’m happy for Locker, though, as he didn’t lose out on as much money as we all thought by returning to school for his senior season. I just think the Titans might regret taking Locker over Gabbert in a few years.
The Ugly: Minnesota Selects QB Christian Ponder
This was the first huge reach of the 2011 draft. I get that the Vikings need a quarterback and they didn’t want to miss out on the quarterbacks remaining, but they simply panicked and made an awful selection.
Ponder is simply just not a first round prospect. I thought that he might go towards the end of round one heading into last night, but that still would’ve been a pretty big reach in my opinion. Selecting him at No. 12 is just a bad decision, and it’ll put a ton of pressure on Ponder moving forward.
Ponder will likely get thrown into the fire next season and I don’t think it’ll be good for his development. He isn’t ready to play next season and I think that he will struggle if he does end up starting next season.
The Vikings are placing the faith of their franchise in Christian Ponder’s hands and I would be concerned if I was a Vikings fan. It’s not that Ponder is a bad player, but he was taken way earlier than he should’ve been and I believe it’ll hurt his development.
The Ugly: The Seahawks Select OG James Carpenter
This was the second time of the night when my jaw dropped when I heard Roger Goodell announce the selection. Anytime a team takes a third round player in the first round, you have to wonder what they were thinking.
Carpenter had no business being in the first round, as I project him as an average NFL guard at best. This was a huge reach for the Seahawks and many Seahawks fans have to be upset with the selection.
Yes, Carpenter does fill a very big need for the Seahawks on the offensive line, but they passed up a few offensive linemen who were much more talented that Carpenter. Gabe Carimi is one of those players, but I’m sure that Bears fans are happy about Seattle’s blunder.
This was very disappointing in my eyes, especially after Seattle had an incredible first round of the draft in 2010. This was an even worse value pick in my eyes than the Vikings selection of Christian Ponder.
The Top Players Still Available on Day Two
When you have a few reaches in the first round, it means that you will end up having some first round talent drop to round two. The unquestioned top player available is DE Da’Quan Bowers, who I expect to see selected early tonight, despite his knee concerns.
The linebacker spot is particularly intriguing early on in round two, as Akeem Ayers and Justin Houston are still available. Both players were expected to be round one picks, and you could see some teams move up to select those guys tonight.
Other top players still available include RB Mikel Leshoure, QB Andy Dalton, and DE Brooks Reed. All three of those players should come off the board early on tonight.
The first round of this season will be a memorable one, and let’s hope that Day two of the draft can continue to be exciting and unpredictable.